Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
Nearly six months after the town of Franklin transferred ownership of the Nikwasi Mound to the nonprofit Nikwasi Mound Initiative, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Chief Richard Sneed spoke to the Franklin Rotary Club last week about the tribe’s continued investment in East Franklin.
Chief Sneed informed members of the Rotary Club that the tribe’s $89,000 feasibility study is complete and shared ways the EBCI can further partner with Franklin to preserve the history of the East Franklin area in relation to the Cherokee.
“The feasibility study is complete and has been submitted to my office by Barbara Duncan,” said Chief Sneed. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Nikwasi Initiative through the next steps to developing the land owned by the EBCI.”
One of the properties currently owned by the EBCI is the former Dan’s Auto Building, which Chief Sneed said has several potential possibilities in terms of development.
“At this time, we are considering several options for the Dan’s Auto Building and hope to be able to showcase the EBCI history and culture via an interactive Museum,” said Chief Sneed.
The EBCI is just one of several invested parties named to the Nikwasi Initiative. Chief Sneed said the EBCI’s role in preserving the mound over the last six months has been the same as other partners of the initiative.
“Our partners at Mainspring Conservation Trust continue to oversee the maintenance and upkeep of the mound, with the assistance of the Nikwasi Initiative board members,” said Chief Sneed. “The Nikwasi Initiative had a clean-up day this past summer in preparation of the Nikwasi celebration. The EBCI is committed to partnering with the Nikwasi Initiative, the Town of Franklin, Macon County, Mainspring Conservation Trust and other partners to promote the mound and educate the general public. The EBCI has appropriated funding to the Nikwasi Initiative to administer the oversight of the mound.”
With museum plans in the works for the property adjacent to the mound, Chief Sneed said the development of the East Franklin area will be with the betterment of the town in mind.
“The EBCI is always looking for ways to educate the public regarding our history and culture,” said Chef Sneed. “I look forward to working with the Town of Franklin and Macon County to promote the rich history of the region thereby adding to the appeal for visiting guests and local residents.”
Chief Sneed told the Rotary Club that the museum could be upwards of a $5 million investment into Franklin and the potential to draw 35,000 visitors a year to the area. While the goal is to preserve the history of the mound, Chief Sneed said a result of such could be a tourist attraction for Macon County.